By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Mount Oliver Borough council changes procedures


ā€” Longtime secretary tenders resignation, ways to collect unpaid fines discussed ā€”

A new borough secretary, new part-time police officer, a successful "Movies in the Park," and a call for borough volunteers were among the news items from the May 21 meeting of Mount Oliver council.

Council members Darnell Sains, Corey McGough, and John Smith were absent.

The meeting began with the police report of Mayor James Cassidy: the officers responded to 886 calls, made 20 narcotics arrests, used the canine unit37 times, and did 270 park-and-walks in targeted areas.

He also reported there are 13 nuisance properties in the borough and all the police equipment is up and running.

Mr. Cassidy said he received no email ( or calls to his hotline (412-431-7333 extension 110).

He also said police Chief Frank Mosesso requested the white lines be painted between parking spaces at the meters. He said it was often hard to determine at which meter drivers were parked. The crosswalks also need repainted for safety.

The borough's new part-time police officer, Joe Riley, was then introduced. He starts on the job immediately.

In the engineer's report, council President Billie Michener said the plan for the next six months is for engineer Kurt Todd to be at the monthly workshop meetings only. The public may attend and ask questions of the engineer at that time.

Mrs. Michener then read the May engineers report, which was a summary of motions needing council's approval.

Among the motions was one to authorize approval of the Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED) loan application for $39,523 for decorative street lighting, which council did.

To a question from the gallery concerning cleaning the current lights to avoid the expense, council said the lights are discolored and cannot be cleaned. Conversion kits which make the bulbs appear brighter are included in the cost.

The lights are for the 100 to 300 blocks of Brownsville Rd. only.

As Mrs. Michener read other motions, Councilman George Farneth said the public should be allowed to ask questions before council votes on the motions.

But solicitor Deron Gabriel said it would be a free-for-all for residents to comment at this time.

Mrs. Michener said she would take the matter under consideration. But most of the motions, she said, have been discussed by the engineer over the past six months or so.

In the fire report, assistant chief Ron Lowrey said the fire department purchased two new chainsaws to replaces ones that are 12 and 15 years old.

Community Days will be held July 18-21. It is likely there will be no fireworks as they cost from $5,000 to $10,000. There will, however, be entertainment.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said he issued 100 violations that day for offenses such as high grass, graffiti, and trash. There are 23 vacant properties on the list for which the owners cannot be located.

Violation letters do not carry fines.

On April 10-11, 39 citations, which come with fines, were issued. Recipients had 72 hours to pay the fines. Of those, 38 did not pay.

Mrs. Michener said the borough is trying for a helper with computer knowledge for Mr. Wilharm who can do the "leg work." The person would also track down out-of-state owners whose property is in violation.

Mrs. Michener said she is working on a program to deal with code violators, including a tracking system to determine if citations are paid.

"We have to find ways to collect more revenue," she said.

Municipalities can also, under state Act 90, deny occupancy permits to property owners who are behind in taxes or other municipal service accounts.

Also, if taxes are owed by a landlord, the tax collector can file papers so that the tenant pays the rent to the borough and not the landlord. The owner cannot, by law, evict a tenant who pays to the borough.

Mrs. Michener said she hopes to implement all of the procedures soon.

Next, Councilwoman Christine Brendel read the resignation letter of the borough secretary of 29 years, Joanne Malloy, who is retiring.

Her effective retirement date is July 27, but her last actual working day will be June 30.

In her letter, she expressed her appreciation, gratitude, and love to her former and current co-workers for their support and guidance.

She also thanked past councils and most of the present council for their confidence and trust in her as borough secretary, and the residents for their support.

"I graciously leave you all and would like to express that this rewarding experience will forever be in my heart and soul," the letter concluded.

Her replacement will be Kathy Connolly, who resides in Clairton. She began training with Mrs. Malloy on April 30.

There were 25 applicants for the position, with seven interviewed by council.

In the economic development/website report, Mr. Farneth said the annual "Cruisin' on the Hilltop," featuring car cruise, sidewalk sales, live band, and more, will be held on Aug. 18 along Brownsville Rd. from Arlington Ave. to the clock tower.

"Movies in the Park" on May 18 in Transverse Park was very successful, he said, drawing more than 100 youngsters.

The next meeting of the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) will be on May 31.

Mr. Farneth, who was dismissed from last month's meeting by Mrs. Michener for refusing to move on to the next agenda item, said he wanted to correct website comments that were made after he exited.

He said when he was assigned to the website committee, he made it clear he was not an expert on websites. While committee member Mrs. Brendel also has little experience, committee member Mr. McGough has more experience than either of them.

He said the impression relayed from last month's meeting was he and Mrs. Brendel had done nothing on the topic, but that was untrue. Mr. Farneth said emails of potential meeting dates were sent to McGough, but he never responded.

Mrs. Brendel said information will be sent to the borough from a web design service. A representative will make a presentation to council at 7 p.m. on June 11, and submit a proposal.

To a question about hiring a college student to design a website, Mr. Farneth said he is working on contacting the University of Pittsburgh, and Point Park and Carnegie Mellon universities.

Asked what the website will contain, Mrs. Michener said "Everything that you can almost do coming into the borough," such as applying for permits, etc.

Next, council voted 4-0 to assign the fire marshal position to code enforcement officer Chuck Knaus.

Under "old business," Mrs. Michener echoed the earlier comments about the success of Movie Night featuring the film, "Puss ā€˜n Boots."

The borough partnered for the event with Pittsburgh CONNECTS Hilltop Computer Center, 500 Brownsville Rd.

Its free offerings include wireless internet, internet classes, youth mentoring, printing, access to laptops, and more for children and adults, and is open seven days a week.

There was free popcorn, field games, face painting, and more at the movie showing. AmeriCorps members helped with set up and clean up.

There was also a service project in which youth repainted a park pavilion defaced with graffiti. Mr. Farneth suggested letters of commendation be sent to the four to five youngsters who participated.

Mrs. Michener said she wished more residents volunteered for borough recreational activities, like "Crank it at the Clock," "Cruisin' on the Hilltop," Community Days, and more.

"Start doing some happy things around here," she said. Of the 3,500 borough residents, she had six show up for clean-up on Earth Day.

"We have a lot of good programs in the borough for cleaning up.

"We need volunteers," she said.

The next council meeting will be on June 18.


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